Abbott & Costello Signature Study, by Al Wittnebert

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are one of the greatest comedy teams in the history of show business. Their talent and chemistry took them from the burlesque to radio, to Broadway, to films and finally, to television.

They officially became a team in 1936 in a New Jersey Burlesque Theatre. From there they honed their routines until they were given the chance to appear on the Kate Smith Radio Hour where they performed their signature skit, ”Who’s On First”. From there they went on to Hollywood.

Universal Pictures signed them to a contract in 1939 and they were the Kings of Comedy for a decade of screen hits including “Buck Privates”, “In the Navy”, “Hold that Ghost”, “Time Of Their Lives” and of course “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”. Today that film remains a favorite with fans as well as a cult following.


Authentic Example of Lou Costello’s autograph on a 1945 check

Bud and Lou’s style of comedy helped lift the morale of the American public during the Second World War. Eager to help the war effort, the boys funded a cross-country tour to help raise funds on behalf of the War Bond Drive. Everywhere they appeared there was a sellout crowd. In three days they raised $89million for the war effort.

With the popularity of television in the 1950’s Abbott and Costello decided to try their well-oiled routines on the small screen.
The Abbott and Costello Show debuted on CBS in 1952 and ran for two seasons. They also hosted the Colgate Comedy Hour on NBC for a time to boost the show’s ratings.

Although they went their separate ways in 1957 they remained good friends.

Lou Costello passed away in 1959 and his partner Bud Abbott in1974.


Early Lou Costello autograph from 1938

According to those who knew them, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were always gracious to autograph seekers during their career. They had a genuine appreciation for their fans and their part in taking them from rags-to-riches. They signed thousand of autographs during their lifetimes and always with a smile. Bud was receiving autograph requests up until the day he passed away.

The boys routinely presented inscribed photos to relatives, friends, and coworkers as keepsakes.


Abbott and Costello autograph from 1946

Mail requests during their film and television days were handled in a very different manner.

 

According to Lou Costello’s personal secretary Aida “De De” Polo, “Lou told me to practice his signature. I had it down pretty well. He wouldn’t even sign his own personal mail, ”Polo added. “He had me write to his aunts and uncles. He didn’t even read what I wrote and told me to just improvise. He did sign his checks. He thought that was important.”


A 1951 signature example of the team.


Bud Abbott Autograph from 1973

As with most of the popular autographs forgeries of this team abound especially on unregulated web auctions and un-vetted collectible shows. Knowledge is the key with any collectible especially autographs. Learning the difference between signature patterns is a matter of comparison to known published examples as well as close examination of the materials including the ink and paper.

This study provides you with a number of good examples of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s autographs during their career. When purchasing an item such as these for your collection, for your own protection, make sure the seller is a UACC Registered Dealer.


Signature Example from the mid 1950’s